The SI portfolio of facilities are a unique collection of indoor and outdoor public spaces, laboratories, living collections, office space, and much more. Likewise, our energy requirements to support these spaces are different than a standard academic or business campus. Energy consumption is used to support the preservation and conservation requirements of art, material culture, natural history collections, and living plants and animals. Stringent temperature and humidity requirements, as well as specialized lighting needs, differentiates the Smithsonian from most other organizations. In addition, we prioritize energy use for the comfort of the Smithsonian community and the 28+ million visitors to our facilities. Heating and cooling requirements represents 63% of the total energy end-use.
The Smithsonian has sought to reduce its energy consumption through a series of tactics and initiatives, including:
- Integration of solar panel arrays at five locations, leading to renewable electricity accounting for 21.8% of total electricity use.
- Development and execution of more than $55 million in energy-saving performance contracts that have introduced energy efficiencies with minimal upfront costs.
- Prioritizing LED lighting retrofits across SI facilities, with the National Zoological Park and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute becoming the first facilities with LED as the primary lighting source.
- Implementing low cost HVAC control measures, sustainable indoor air quality practices, and improved energy auditing.